LONDON, Ont. -- Jason Howard developed type one diabetes after a severe acute pancreatic attack.

“All of a sudden you wake up and you’re diabetic and there’s no cure,” he says.

Howard says having type one diabetes not only takes a physical toll, but a large financial toll, because he and his wife are self-employed and don’t have health benefits, so they spend approximately $4,000 a year on life-saving medical supplies.

“There’s times where I know I’ve rationed my insulin where I’ve thought maybe I will take a little less cause I want to stretch it out because everything is out of pocket and that’s the mindset you get into.”

The cost of managing diabetes varies by patient, but one of the expenses - for example - are test strips used to check blood sugar levels.

They cost about a dollar per strip and can cost a paitent upwards of $2,000 each year.

It’s the mounting costs for patients that has the Diabetes Care Team at St. Joseph’s Health Care concerned.

Rebecca Meehan of the Diabetes Care Team says, “We’re seeing quite a few of our patients coming in and they are facing some difficult decisions. So they are having to choose between basic living expenses like buying groceries for their family and being able to pay for their diabetes supplies and medications they need.”

Meehan says in order to help the growing number of patients struggling financially, the team has added a social service worker to the Diabetes Education Program.

“They are able to help our patients navigate some of the complex and different support programs available for patients out there.”

Patients like Howard who knows the financial sacrifices that have to be made in order to keep himself alive

“That’s something I have to do to live, I can’t not take insulin - well I guess I could but I would have a heart attack if I didn’t - so yeah it can be very frustrating from all points of view.”